Hunger forces early college closure in Masvingo

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By Tonderai Saharo

A government vocational institution in Masvingo province has been forced to send students home early because of food shortages, has learnt.

Mushagashe Vocational Training Center some 40km outside the country’s oldest city, shut its doors this week after failing to provide food for its students.

Students interviewed claimed they had survived their last week of the semester on a diet of a cup of tea with a single slice of bread in the morning while dinner comprised the staple sadza with boiled cabbages, occasionally replaced with beans. Students then reportedly staged demonstrations rejecting the food.

“The college had run out of food they were no longer able to properly feed us and as students we mobilised ourselves and embarked on demonstrations at the college. We could spontaneously burst into song and dance denouncing the quality of food each time we went to the dining hall resulting in authorities letting us leave the college early fearing the worst might happen.

“We had thought airing our displeasure was going to improve our diet as hunger was also affecting our learning,” said one of the students.

However college Principal William Hliziyo, while admitting the current economic problems bedeviling the country had not spared his institution claimed the decision to shut down early was to allow students to find attachment places.

“The college is not peculiar to the current economic hardships facing the country but we cannot say shortage of food was the main reason we had to close early.

“We closed early to allow students to have ample time to look for places of attachment in their various fields of study which they are supposed to begin in October,” said Hliziyo.

Mushagashe like most colleges and schools was supposed to close for the term on August 8 in accordance with government education calendar.

The institution is home to 360 boarding students who are awarded certificates after completing a one year training program in various fields including agriculture and electrical engineering among others.

Students pay $450 that cover tuition and boarding fees per term.

At least half of Zimbabwe’s 15 million population will require food aid this year after a devastating drought.